They are here!

The results of my Ancestry DNA test that I got as a Christmas gift are in. I have always wondered what my “special sauce” was, given to me through relatives, now long gone and where on Earth they called home. The results are back and after I laughed for a long time, I had a sense of wonder as so many of these places have called to me, through music, or food, sights and sounds. Some of these places, I have visited; others are still on my bucket list.

I’ve spent my lifetime only knowing that my paternal grandparents were Italian (Sicilian and Calabrese) and my maternal grandparents were Norwegian (mom’s dad) and Czech (mom’s mom). I’ve been trying to build a family tree and have hit dead ends on all lines somewhere around the mid 1800s. Until I launch an expedition to the motherlands to comb through church records, I will probably never know anything specific about the stories of my great grandparents and theirs as well.

But blood doesn’t lie. Even if I don’t know their names and their stories, they live on in the structure of my cells. Maybe, they gave me a freckle on my arm or a color in my iris. Maybe the sound of my voice is similar to theirs or a strange love of exotic food; or the powerful wanderlust that has pulled me to countries far and near.

I laughed when I saw these DNA test results because I have some living relatives who harbor not-so-very-well hidden feelings about some cultures, religions and races that they consider *less than*- and even *terrorists* by circumstance of birth.

Well buckle up girls, because these results are YOUR results too.

Italy/ Greece-32% …

Western European (France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland) 20% …

Scandinavian 16% … (Sweden, Norway)

Eastern European (Czech Republic, Austria, Poland) 12% …

MIDDLE EASTERN (Syria, Iraq, Iran, UAE, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia) 8% …

Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) 3% …

EUROPEAN JEWISH (Ukraine, Israel, Poland, Belarus, Hungary, Russia) 3% …

Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) 2% …

NORTHERN AFRICA (Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya) 1% 

And trace DNA from Finland, Northwest Russia, and Caucasus- a reference to more ancestors from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and others.

I am an interesting blend of so many cultures that are currently under scrutiny by people with very small minds.

I’m actually kind of bummed that I didn’t find any Orient, South Pacific Island, South American or Native American sparkles floating around in my bloodline.

Here’s what I know- I am a child of Earth in all its technicolor glory, and I carry a little bit of many, many cultures that make this the amazing planet that it is.

Everyone should have this test run just to see who it is you’re hoping doesn’t get let into America. Because they are not THOSE people. They are OUR people.

Suck it up, Buttercups.

Take it away, Michael…


Who In The World Am I? DNA Results are IN!

Hello again!

Wonder from the daughter. What a great eye!

My Joy Photography

With this blog and website, I will share with you my travels and moments I decided to capture. I am working on setting up purchase capability for my photos- so hang tight! They will be found here at SmugMug!

Please feel free to contact me about where some of these photos are taken. I would love to share my favorite hiking spots, trails, National Parks, favorite food joints, etc.!

Thanks for joining me, check back in again soon 🙂

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Donald and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Wall

Somewhere back in our cellular memory, we likely carry the echoes of the luxury of wealth and all it affords, or we carry the scars to the body, mind and soul received while serving the wealthy.

In our comfortable middle to upper class existences, we move through our daily lives like the courtesans and friends of royalty of long ago. We can afford to eat at a restaurant and stay in a hotel while we’re on our vacations. We can hire workers to do the things that we don’t have skills to do or we simply chose not to do. We order our meals and (some) make a show of complaining when the food doesn’t magically appear at the table within five minutes. We wave over our server as if we are French Aristocracy to announce that the wine is corked. We don’t want to see what’s happening back in the kitchen. We don’t want to think about the actual “farm to table” experience and who it was that picked this baby artichoke perched at an artistic angle in the small pool of lemon aioli.

Our new *leader* is talking about walls and sweeping immigration and deportation. Like his hair care knowledge, he has no clue what works and what doesn’t. His policies and those of the GOP will leave America not only looking as ridiculous as said hair, but will bring an economic hammer down on us that will cripple the nation.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about those people and connecting the dots between everything we expect to be available in our supermarkets and restaurants and those same workers the GOP wants tossed over a wall.


Immigrant farm worker fixing irrigation in an artichoke field.

The Bracero Program. You may have studied it in U.S. History.

During World War II, under the Bracero Program, the United States brought Mexican laborers into the country to remedy wartime production shortages. Named for the Spanish word for manual laborer (bracero), the program began in 1942. I should say, it officially began in 1942, but the truth is that manual laborers had been working farms all along, reaching back to when strongholds of food producing lands were still Mexican territory.

Way back in 1928, when many white citizens were complaining that Mexicans were taking jobs away from “Americans”, a Chamber of Commerce representative from California testified to Congress on the need for allowing US businesses to hire migrant workers. “We, gentlemen, are just as anxious as you are not to build the civilization of California or any other western district upon a Mexican foundation. We take him because there is nothing else available. We have gone east, west, north, and south and he is the only man-power available to us.” The Farm Bureau asserted that “California’s specialized agriculture [requires] a kind of labor able to meet the requirements of hard, stoop, hand labor, and to work under the sometimes less advantageous conditions of heat, sun, dust, winds, and isolation.”

He went on to refer to these temporary workers as “Homing Pigeons”; laboring long, hard hours spending months away from their families but always with their eye on finally returning home.

It’s a fairly simple scenario to understand. Farmers grow food. They harvest and process the food. They sell it to a domestic market or it goes out of the country as an export. The things they grow must be able to compete in those market places by remaining in an affordable, yet profitable price range or they are driven out of business by competition who will sell the market a cheaper product. Selling affordable products means having low over head and that means cheap labor.

According to, this year-2017, the average annual wage of a migrant farm worker is between $10,000 and $12,499.

Let’s be kind and call it $12,000 per year. That’s $1,000 per month. And that means $6.25 per hour.

And now, let’s be honest, companies will always be looking to pay as little as possible for laborers. And most young, healthy Americans feel that work of this kind is “beneath them”. Not all young, healthy Americans. I personally know a few who work regular jobs and on their “time-off” they can be found picking cherries and harvesting other crops for the extra money. They also do it so that their family or their neighbor’s farms will have product harvested on-time and at the market while it is still sell-able.

And that, my friends, is perhaps the most ignored portion of the “illegal worker” situation when considering migrant workers. Produce Spoils. There is a window of time in the world of farming when the product is ready to harvest and when it’s over, if that is your only crop, you are done for the year. It’s a mad rush of seasonal frenzy and then it is the dead silence of a fallow field or an orchard empty of fruit.

Some have expanded their options and now use hoop houses and crops that can be gathered year round, but some solutions to the short grow season only work in temperate climates like Texas, California and Florida. Not so for the corn, wheat, barley and other staple crops of the “Bread Basket” states who must wait out the winter and spring until the ground is soft enough to plant again.

Imagine, if you will, an overwhelming number of Americans suddenly willing to relocate for a few months to work those California fields, or those Michigan Cherry orchards; spending long, hard hours away from their friends and families; living in affordable temporary housing that they or their employer provides. And after the back breaking harvest season, they earn $3.25 an hour less than their friend that is a life guard at the public pool. Maybe you can imagine a rush of newly graduated high school students and twenty and thirty-somethings uprooting their American lives to fill those jobs. Personally, I cannot.

Closing borders and deporting Mexican and South American workers will effectively cripple American food production. And even outside the hotly debated farm worker situation, there are many other industries that will be affected by deportation and it will trigger a series of economic catastrophes as they shutter their businesses, one by one, for lack of minimum wage workers.

Now, imagine if the USA deported every undocumented immigrant tomorrow.

A large portion of the restaurant industry is employing workers just like these. Restaurants in all our major cities would come to a screeching halt and within months they would be forced to close for lack of employees who do all the back of the house work that “our” kids and friends refuse to do because we are “over-qualified.”

Industry data says over 355,000 dishwashers alone work in our restaurants. Most restaurants employ one or two dishwashers.


When a restaurant’s doors close, it’s not just the dishwasher out of work. It’s the bartender, the server, the cooks, the hostess, the sommelier, the managers and the owner. For every one dishwasher there are six to eight other back and front of the house employees. Now multiply that by 355,000. THAT is the impact of deporting these workers en masse.

The same domino effect will happen in farming, landscaping and maintenance services, child-care, house-keeping for private homes, hotels and hospitals. When the manual and hourly workers are pulled from all the jobs they currently do, then businesses close and all other employees lose their jobs as well.


Staff of Helena’s American Ranch House in Shelby County, Alabama. Opened in 2016

Within one year we would feel the nationwide economic impact with the loss of the same laborers that the GOP is so eager to toss over the border. We need to slow the roll here and have a logical discourse about the impact on America that a sweeping edict like deportation will have on the nation.

I have a sinking feeling that the same breed of MBA wielding wizards who crashed the stock market in 2008 are now “advising” the GOP and our current administration. It’s like watching someone standing on a railroad track and the train is a mile away and they aren’t anticipating its arrival. Everyone hears the whistle and these are the only train tracks in town.

Which brings me to the “Wall”. I just have one question for Donald.

Who the hell do you think is going to be hired to actually build this “wall’?

Privileged Americans! If you’re curious about the real lives of these faceless people some want tossed out of the country? Check out Farmworker Confessional.

And while we are busy building figurative and (hopefully not) literal walls, don’t imagine countries like Mexico are going to continue buying our exported products. THAT will be another massive hit to the United States economy. Take a look… and that’s in billions…with a “B”.


Send this to your representative in Washington D.C. and ask them if they are taking these issues into consideration while they wave their flags and cheer on their new quarterback.

If you don’t know who they are, find them here:

And have a great lunch…

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Stark w/a Jennifer McGowan

Jenn Stark gives Great Advice on writing. Check this out…

Gem State Writers

I’ve been writing for fun and profit since I wrote a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure computer program on the Commodore 64 at age 11.  I began selling $5 love poems in junior high, and have made my living as a writer and branding guru for the past twenty years. I spent the early part of my life in Montana, but grew up in Ohio, and really learned what I was made of in Paris, France. I now live and write in Ohio. MAID OF SECRETS is my first published novel, coming from Simon & Schuster Young Readers in late 2012.

After THE CALL… the first 90 days

If you’re like most writers, you don’t sell your very first draft of your first book. In fact, you may not sell your second or third, either, but you keep working at the process of writing and honing your craft. Even authors I know who became…

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Poetry Day: There Should Be A Sound

I wrote this in 2001, but today, I am with it again for my sister-in-law. Yesterday, she left us after a very long battle with M.S.

Safe Home, Betty. Your light will shine on forever.


Betty Burkey Georgeau

There Should Be A Sound

There should be a sound for this-

For the moment when a soul

let’s go from its mortal vehicle

to soar on

ahead of the rest of us;

a bell,

a chime,

a bagpipe strain,

a cello note,

some sound that signals

the end of one piece and

the beginning of another.

Instead, I am left here in silence

holding fast to the echo

of a word you spoke last

from your mouth to my ear

Grabbing threads of memory pulling back

the sound of your voice before it leaves me

the sound of your heart that beat so long, so well

There should be a sound,

There should be a sound.


People of Earth! 

There is a company that goes by the name

You can order dozens of colors of this fabulous stuff  to sparkle up your world.

For just a moment, think about why this magical substance even exists. It serves no purpose but to delight; to enchant; to cause us to dream of beauty and wonder. There in the palm of your hand rests a universe of stars to call your own.
Glitter is a substance that royalty would have paid dearly for had it existed centuries ago. 
Surely, pyramids, castles and monuments would have worn the iridescent shimmer that could only have come from brushing against angels, fairies or other beings from realms we are separate from. And you, lucky modern humans, can get it at almost any store in one form or another. 
There may be glimmering snowflakes at Willowbrook Mill this winter and we hope they transport the viewer to somewhere, someplace, sometime, when joy was right there at your fingertips… 

Shine on you crazy diamonds.